If you’re looking for an indulgent facial, I think this Creamy Oat & Shea Face Mask is just the thing. A rich base of shea butter and safflower oil suspends a blend of soothing, moisturizing ingredients to create a really decadent masking experience. Try using this mask while soaking in the tub—it’s downright lovely!
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The creamy base for this face mask is a combination of lightweight safflower oil and rich, nourishing shea butter. I used unrefined shea butter as I like a touch of its scent with the soft oat-y note from the colloidal oatmeal, but if you really don’t like the smell of shea butter you could easily use refined shea butter instead.
I selected cetyl alcohol to thicken the base. I chose it over cetearyl alcohol and stearic acid because it is significantly more slippy, making for a much nicer application. While I love the richness of stearic acid, that richness can be more skiddy/draggy in applications like this.
For the powdery, mask-y things, I’ve chosen three wonderful ingredients for sensitive skin. White kaolin clay is a lovely, gentle clay that offers some light exfoliation on wash off, and gently increases circulation as it dries. Colloidal oatmeal is a wonderful soothing moisturizer with anti-inflammatory properties, making it brilliant for dry, irritated skin. And lastly—urea. Urea is a bit of a wonder ingredient in skincare; deeply moisturizing, soothing, and gently exfoliating. In hydrous products, it can cause pH drift—but there’s no water in this product, so that’s not a worry.
Some Polysorbate 80 makes this Creamy Oat & Shea Face Mask self-emulsifying. This means you can incorporate some water easily at the moment of application, and also makes it easy to rinse off. You could honestly use this as a cleansing balm if you wanted to, though the urea definitely shines best when left on the skin for longer than the thirty seconds you might leave a cleansing balm on your face. I’ve really been enjoying using this face mask in the bath—it makes it easy to rinse off, and it’s a lovely bit of indulgence along with a mug of tea and a fun TV show. Enjoy!
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Creamy Oat & Shea Face Mask
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
While the heated phase melts, combine the powdered ingredients in a DIY-only coffee grinder and blend them together thoroughly. It’s a good idea to wear a dust mask when you’re working with fine powders and coffee grinders. If you don’t have one, make sure you leave the coffee grinder to settle for 5 minutes after you’re done grinding before opening the lid; this will dramatically lessen the amount of powder that floats up and can be inhaled.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dishtowel. Add the ground up powders to the melted oils, stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything, and then place the measuring cup back in the water bath for another 20 minutes or so. This allows the powders to soak up the oils and disperse much more easily. You could also just combine everything right from the start—I did it this way so I could be certain the cetyl alcohol had completely melted before adding the powders, but you certainly don’t have to.
Check the mixture on the stovetop every now and then; once it has soaked long enough that you don’t see any powdery clumps you can remove the measuring cup from the heat. Stir until the mixture has thickened enough that the powders won’t settle out while it cools.
Pour the product into its container and leave it on the counter to set up. I used a 30g (1.06oz) paperboard jar from YellowBee. If you use a paperboard container you’ll want to be extra careful to avoid dripping any product down the outside of it as the oil will stain the paper.
To use; I like to work the mask up with a bit of warm water between my palms, and them massage that into my face. You could also spread the mask all over your face, and then mist your face with your favourite hydrosol. Gently work that into the mask with your fingers—it’ll get a bit creamy and paler in colour. Leave to dry for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off. Whatever you do, follow up with your favourite moisturizer. That’s it!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this creamy face mask is 100% oil-based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Be sure not to contaminate it with water during use, and advise any giftees of this. Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 25g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list (urea) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed for the safflower seed oil.
- You could try a different soft butter instead of shea butter.
- Cromollient SCE will work instead of Polysorbate 80.
- If you’d like a variation that uses an emulsifying wax instead, please read this.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the cetyl alcohol. If you have to I’d choose cetearyl alcohol over stearic acid.
- I recommend giving this a read regarding melting.
- You could try grinding up some regular oats instead of colloidal oatmeal (that will likely be more exfoliating/scrubby), or using food-grade oat flour
- You can use a different light, smooth clay instead of kaolin. French green clay and zeolite would all be good options. I do not recommend bentonite or rhassoul for this project.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.